Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.

Hyperion offers both CDs, and downloads in a number of formats. The site is also available in several languages.

Please use the dropdown buttons to set your preferred options, or use the checkbox to accept the defaults.

Colloque, FP108

First line:
D'une rose mourante
December 1940; published posthumously
author of text
Dialogues pour deux flûtes; retrospectively dedicated À Francis Poulenc, qui a fait chanter ce colloque

The poet Paul Valéry (1871–1945) was unquestionably one of France’s greatest poets and men of letters—much admired by both Poulenc and Bernac. Older than Apollinaire (although published as a young man in the same literary reviews), Surrealism passed him by—his great maître was Mallarmé and, building on symbolism, he created his own modernism. It was a style little suited to Poulenc’s music, but the composer wrote a single Valéry setting, just as he composed single settings of Charles d’Orléans, Malherbe, Racine, Anouilh, Colette, Radiguet and Beylié. Each of these is a fine song, a memorable dalliance but, for one reason or another, hardly an enduring liaison.

Colloque is also Poulenc’s only duet—although he prefers, in the manner of many of Schubert’s so-called duets, one voice to follow the other (in this case tenor followed by soprano) rather than have them sing together. The poet’s subtitle is ‘pour deux flûtes’ and in the 1942 edition of Valéry’s Poésies the poem is dedicated to Poulenc. The piano’s quavers in the introduction, an octave apart, are strangely reminiscent of the opening of the Cinq poèmes de Paul Éluard where the composer was also feeling his way with a new poet. The poem is less obscure than much of Valéry’s verse, more of an obvious love poem than anything Éluard ever wrote, and Poulenc clearly finds this a disadvantage. He instinctively shies away from anything as hackneyed as stagey, or staged, romantic lyricism. Accordingly, he keeps the male part of the colloquy lean and serious, permitting a flowering of romantic emotion only with the entrance of the female voice in the song’s twenty-fourth bar. It is here that we perceive what Poulenc’s love songs may have been without the strength of Éluard’s poetry—nearer the immediate sentiment of Les chemins de l’amour than the sublimity of Tel jour telle nuit. There are some lovely, and characteristic, harmonic progressions and an eloquent vocal line, but such approachable music lavished à deux on love’s faded roses, and despite the innate elegance of Valéry, teeters precariously on the borders of operetta; it is surely for that reason that the composer chose not to publish it in his lifetime—the reappearance at the end of the austere opening does nothing to remove the awkward impression of having glimpsed Poulenc denuded of the armoury of literary mystery that rendered his music revelatory rather than sentimental.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013

Colloque, sur un texte de Paul Valéry (1871–1945) demeura inédit du vivant de Poulenc. Conformément au titre, c’est un colloque où les deux voix ne chantent jamais ensemble. Valéry avait originellement intitulé ce poème (dédié à Poulenc) «Dialogues pour deux flûtes». Le compositeur avoua que, s’il admirait autant Valéry que Verlaine ou Rimbaud, il ne se sentait pas à l’aise pour mettre ses textes en musique. La ligne vocale et les harmonies sont assez gracieuses, mais il n’y a pas de véritable fusion entre les paroles et la musique.

extrait des notes rédigées par Graham Johnson © 1985
Français: Hypérion


Poulenc: The Complete Songs
CDA68021/44CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 3
Studio Master: SIGCD272Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Poulenc: Voyage à Paris


Track 31 on CDA68021/4 CD3 [3'03] 4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Track 23 on CDH55366 [3'01]
Track 5 on SIGCD272 [3'13] Download only

Track-specific metadata

Click track numbers above to select
Waiting for content to load...
Waiting for content to load...